Retail sales bounce back after miserable January

BRITISH retailers bounced back in February after a miserable start to the year, posting a 2.2 per cent rise in like-for-like retail sales values, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said today.

But the BRC cautioned against reading too much into these figures as the growth is compared with very weak figures a year ago when February saw the worst of last winter’s weather.

Stephen Robertson, the BRC’s director-general said that this February’s performance was helped by sales postponed from January. He added: “Consumer confidence is certainly up on this time last year but, with unemployment rising again, spending plans are falling. When the weather-related distortions are stripped away, customers are still cautious.”

In the three months to February, food sales growth slowed to 2.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis after shoppers had stocked up during January’s snow. Non-food sales recovered to record 2.4 per cent growth on a year earlier, but this was against weak performance last February.

The cold weather also encouraged consumers to shop online with non-food non-store sales 15.5 per cent higher last month on a year ago.